So it's here, finally, and maybe a decade too late. Given the curse of hype and expectations, Matt Groening & Co. can't quite pull off an ideal South Park–type scenario, where the theatrical effort is so obviously, outrageously brilliant that it excuses the makers for a substandard season or three. (The PG-13 rating eliminates any chance of a revelatory Uncle Fucker type gag, sadly, although you do get an unexpected glimpse at a character's animated junk.) That said, once you wade through all of the Burger King–assisted promotional chaff, The Simpsons Movie manages to feel like a pretty good extended episode from somewhere around the show's golden era. If, like me, you consider those middle seasons to be just about the best thing ever on TV, this should be enough, really.

Beginning with a commendably gnarly Itchy and Scratchy gag, the plot soon finds the family on the run through America after an evil EPA head (frequent guest voice Albert Brooks, here reaching near–Hank Scorpio levels of villainy) places an impenetrable biodome over Springfield. As with the best episodes of the show, the writers use their scenario to score any number of hits on the small and large absurdities of everyday life. Also, Homer seriously considers making out with a pig at one point, which is always good.

On the debit side, the thing could probably stand to be a bit shorter, as there are definitely some dead spots to be found, mostly when the plot strands the main characters far, far away from the supporting cast. (Reducing Mr. Burns to one or two throwaway gags is criminal.) Somewhat more worrying is the overriding feeling that the whole enterprise is pretty much running on fumes at this point, with nothing new to reveal. Still, warts, post-freshness dating, needless Green Day cameos, and all, the simple fact is that I laughed more here—particularly in the first 20-minute chunk—than at any other movie this year. I'm not booing, I'm saying Boo-urns.